The Chicago Cubs just won the World Series – a 108-year streak without this feat. Ryan Field celebrated by flying the W atop the towers rising over the upper deck. The NU band played “Go Cubs Go” to an all-crowd sing along. Breaking streaks like this are always cause for major celebration. Another streak was on the line as well. It’s not quite 108 years of suffering, but the Badgers have not experienced success in Evanston since 1999. Today, that W flag would also stand for Wisconsin.
Often regarded as the Big Ten’s wildest and thrilling venue, Camp Randall Stadium never disappoints. Once a Civil War training site, this massive structure is crammed in a beautiful residential area among dorms, frat houses, campus buildings and bars. The Camp is the perfect college venue with views of the state capital and Madison’s surrounding lakes (Mendota and Menona). The walk up Breese Terrace right before kickoff is one of my favorites as herds of red and white walk in the shadows of Camp Randall’s upper deck. The frat houses along this side are spilling over with college kids and extracurricular activity. As this side heats up, the band is finishing their pre-game concert at Union South on the Randall Avenue side. From here, they march proudly into the stadium under the iconic Camp Randall arch while creating a path through awestruck fans.
Two weeks ago, overtime claimed Wisconsin a victim at Camp Randall. Tonight, the Badgers would enter overtime again while facing their FIFTH Top 10 opponent this season.
Camp Randall Stadium is one of the most raucous stadiums in the nation. When Ohio State visits, turn up the volume from rowdy to ridiculous. This will be the eleventh game I have seen between the Buckeyes and the Badgers, and the contests are always a national event. This one was no different as College Gameday set up its stage on Bascom Hill to highlight the game’s magnitude.
Finally, it paid off. Wisconsin’s insistence on scheduling a high profile opening game reaped some benefits. After falling short to LSU in 2014 and Alabama in 2015, the Badgers chalked up a victory in the highly anticipated rematch against LSU at historic Lambeau Field. Underdog status be damned. The Badgers are for real.
For Wisconsin fans on Halloween, no amount of candy could possibly match the treat of runningback Corey Clement’s return to the field. He brings an entirely different element to the Badger offense – one that would serve more as a trick than a treat for Rutgers.
More than 74,000 visited Camp Randall Stadium today, but it was patchy amongst the bleachers. Halloween is an over-the-top event in Madison, and those festivities coupled with an annoyingly chilly rainfall colored the crowd with a more dispirited hue.
In the fourth quarter, a Badger fan in front of me exclaimed, “I would rather see Iowa’s offense with the ball at their own ten than Wisconsin’s offense with the ball anywhere.” It sure seemed logical – the Badger defense appeared to possess a higher probability of scoring. It was that kind of game.
Hawaii’s visit to Madison inspired plastic luau-themed paraphernalia all over campus – palm trees, flowery leis, grass skirts – it’s as close as Wisconsin gets to that level of paradise. During the pregame band festivities, even legendary Badger band leader, Mike Leckrone got into the spirit by making his signature entrance on a surf board.
Indianapolis has been a familiar spot for the Badgers and it undoubtedly will be the same way for Ohio State in the future. Wisconsin arrived making its third appearance in the Big Ten title in four years. The Buckeyes were looking at capturing what slipped through their fingers in last year’s loss to Michigan State. But, the stakes were higher as a college football playoff spot was also in the cards for OSU.
The Gophers had a shot at something they haven’t achieved since 1967 – a Big Ten title. Of course, that would mean defeating Wisconsin in Camp Randall Stadium, a feat undone since 1994. It would also include beating Ohio State the following week, an accomplishment only realized twice since that magical 1967 season. Minnesota’s 2014 edition, however, could put a challenge into both the Badgers and Buckeyes. Today would be for the Big Ten West Division title. Paul Bunyan’s Axe was also at stake. This highly coveted trophy awarded to the winner of this border battle has been in Wisconsin’s trophy case for ten straight years -more incentive for Minnesota.